Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Postpartum Wardrobe Dilemma

I'm standing in my undies inside my closet, cursing the mirror and its offensive reflection. My waist has returned, but my widened hips make its small size look ridiculous and disproportioned. A soft pooch hangs off my abdomen like a deflated kickball. Giant pink stretch marks stripe my hips, and some smaller ones are even on my thighs. I turn around and look at my backside. Yep, there too. It looks like a cat clawed my rear end. I need to lose about 25 pounds to get back to my pre-baby weight. At 6 weeks postpartum, you can forgive yourself all the flaws and extra weight, but at three months you start to get restless with your new look. Never before have I so much dreaded bathing suit weather.

But that's not even the issue I'm struggling with right now. I can always avoid getting into a bathing suit. But what I can't avoid (not without going stir crazy) is having to go out into the world in front of people. In regular clothes. I am fed up with struggling to find something to wear! Only about 15% of my clothes fit, and only half of that I can nurse in. For 12 weeks I've practically lived in yoga pants or stretchy lounge pants. If I've had to go out, I've rustled up a couple of sundresses that work, or I've used the Bella Band or a hair twistie looped through the button hole and around the button to hold up my undone jeans, but those tricks will only get you so far before you get tired of them.

My issue is this: I don't want to wear maternity clothes anymore because I'm not pregnant and don't want to look pregnant. But my regular clothes don't fit. But I don't want to buy new clothes because I'm (probably vainly) hoping that I will lose the baby weight soon, and the new clothes will be useless. So what's a girl to do? I could stay sequestered at home in my yoga pants, or I could accept the reality that it may be a while before my clothes fit and break down and buy some transitional clothes. Be warned: if the hormones don't give you the baby blues, your postpartum body might put you down in the dresser dumps!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Little Easter Bunny

This weekend we braved the almost three hour trip to Upstate SC to spend Easter weekend with my family. We took Scarlett up there in February, but that was when she was only two weeks old and still sleepy enough to pass out the whole way, so I was nervous this time around. I waited until she'd had a good nap (in my arms) and had fed before we left, and then we loaded up and headed out. I sat in the backseat with her in hopes of keeping her entertained. The first hour she was happy and "talking" up a storm. Then she fell asleep for 30 minutes. She then alternated between fussing and cooing, but then cried pretty much the entire last 30 minutes. I actually tried to lean over the carseat at one point and nurse her! But that didnt work, I couldn't bend quite the right way. Anyway, we survived and arrived to start a great weekend with family.

Easter Sunday would be Scarlett's debut at church, so I was a little nervous about how she would do and how I would get both myself and her ready on time. As for me, I had to rummage through my closet before we left for SC to find something somewhat cute that fit AND I could nurse in. I found a sundress with a cross-over front that fit the part. Scarlett would wear a sweet smocked dress that I wore when I was a baby. That morning she was so happy and just a-kickin' her little legs as I dressed her in a vintage slip, her dress, little white booties, and a pink felt flower headband that I made, despite her daddy's protests that she doesn't like wearing headbands. "Yes, she does, she likes to look pretty!" I countered, even though I think he's right. She does indeed seem to resent stuff being put on her head. Well she seemed in a good mood for the moment.

She fussed a little in her carseat on the way there, but seemed content as we arrived ten minutes late and took our seats. Perfect, she is going to do ok! I'll just hold her through the whole service and she'll just be happy as can be. Nope. Almost immediately after we sat down, as the worship team was reading scripture, Scarlett suddenly opened her mouth wide and shrieked. "WAAAAAAHHH! Wah-Wah-Wah WAAAAH!" I don't know if it was the voices coming through the microphones or all the people or what, but something sure scared the poor little girl. I hopped up and walked right out, Scarlett screaming all the way, and I could see the people's sympathetic smiles. Oh dear, well that's that. We did go back in after she nursed and fell asleep for a bit, but I ended up standing in the back rocking her.
Even though she was overwhelmed at church, I think Scarlett enjoyed her first Easter and having her Nana and aunts to hold her and love on her. Next year she will probably be able to hunt for a few eggs! That's hard to imagine. My little "peep" is growing so fast! Eating up every moment...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

What you got in that bag?

I am not a super organized person, but I like to be prepared. I had my hospital bag packed over a month before my due date. Like a good little mommy-to-be, I had everything on the checklist. I didn't use half of it. Here is my take on what I used and didn't use. If you are pregnant maybe this will help you decide what to put in your bag. But if you're like me, you'll pack everything anyway. It's ok, go ahead if it helps you feel more prepared. Whatever you pack, it will end up sitting in a pile in the corner of your bedroom for a week after you get home anyway.

Things I was glad to have:

Your own toiletries and towel - it felt wonderful to take a shower the next day with my own great smelling shampoo and conditioner, and the hospital towels are kind of small and scratchy.

Makeup - I know you're thinking, "Yeah right, like I'm going to bother putting makeup on as in recovering from delivery!" It's funny, because most days I don't even wear makeup unless I'm going to church or dinner, but it felt so good to put some on and feel pretty after putting my body through some pretty gross trauma.

Headbands and ponytail holders- didn't use during labor, but they were convenient during my postpartum stay.

Snacks and change for vending machine - especially for the middle of the night when you wake up starving, and for in between hospital meals. My family was also happy I had packed snacks (pretzels, goldfish crackers, lance crackers, juice boxes, granola bars, etc), and they used the vending machine a lot for drinks.

Camera - Of course! How could I not capture all those precious first moments? I put my sister in charge of the camera during labor and delivery.

Your own pillow - For sure. The hospital pillows are pretty flat. I made sure it was in a case distinguishable from the hospital's white cases. Mark also had one.

Lansinoh Lanolin cream - YES! Your nipples get so cracked and sore from the first few days (even weeks) of nursing, even if you have a correct latch. This is a MUST.

Boppy pillow - for nursing

iPad - I only used it a few times to check/update facebook and send some email announcements, but Mark and my other family members used it a good bit.

Going home outfit for me and baby - Scarlett wore the same gown that I went home in when I was born. I
wore stretchy pants and a maternity tshirt. Sorry to disappoint, but your maternity clothes will still fit you, and your regular clothes will not.
Things that never left my bag:

Robe and slippers for walking the halls in labor- didn't happen. I was in active labor right away, and even if I didn't have the bed-confining epidural, there is no way I could have been walking around through the pain.

Nightgown and pajamas, comfy clothes - just stayed in the hospital gown the whole time. It was easier, especially since they have to keep checking you every few hours. Plus, my own stuff didn't get ruined from postpartum bleeding.

Nursing bras - just went bare under the hospital gown, also easier

Socks - my feet were never cold

Chapstick because they say hospitals get very dry - never had this problem

Magazines/Book - I was too busy enjoying my new baby, talking to visitors, and trying to sleep to bother with these

Big cotton panties that you don't mind getting ruined - just used the lovely mesh disposable ones that the hospital provided. But I did use them when I got home for a few weeks. Trust me, you don't want thong underwear getting all up in your traumatized lady bits.

Maxi pads- the hospital provided these, but you do need them for home. Go ahead and get at least two big boxes.

Some other tips for your postpartum recovery:

In the hospital, don't feel bad about letting the nurse take your baby to the nursery and bringing her to you for feedings. Going in, I was positive I wanted my baby with me at all times. But the second night Scarlett was not as sleepy and needed more soothing. Mark and I hadn't slept much and were sooo tired, but Scarlett was crying every few minutes. Finally around 1:30 am we called the nurse to take her. I was crying as she wheeled her out in the bassinet. I felt like a bad mother. But the sweet nurse told me what every new mom should hear, that your baby NEEDS you to get some rest. It will be better for both of you. The nurses will take good care of her!

The hospital will probably provide you with a stiz bath. Take it home! You'll need it for the next few days. They should also give you a spray bottle you can take home and fill with warm water to use every time you go to the bathroom. Also, if the hospital doesn't give you an inflatable or foam donut pillow to sit on, have your hubby go to the drug store and buy you one. Your bum will thank you.

Buy some Tucks and witch hazel. I also picked up this tip from another blog to make "padsicles."
Soak some maxi pads in witch hazel, wrap them in plastic, and put them in the freezer. These will be so soothing on your poor battered bottom.

Go ahead and put some of those gentle baby wipes in the bathroom. Rough toilet paper is not your friend right now.

Let someone do everything for you. Now is not the time to worry about dishes or laundry or anything else but eating, sleeping, healing, and taking care of your baby. Line up some help. I seriously don't know what I would have done if I didn't have my mom for the first ten days.

Breastfeeding is hard at first. It took a while for Scarlett to figure it out. In the hospital she would suckle for just a few seconds and then fall asleep. I was so worried she wasn't getting enough, but I was grateful to the nurses who assured me she was ok. In the first 24 hours or so, the baby is still thriving on nutrition from the placenta, so even if she only takes a teaspoon or two of colostrum, it's ok. I'm so glad they just kept encouraging me and didn't try to push a bottle. Scarlett eventually got it. But when my milk came in a few days later, I was so engorged that she couldn't latch and would become even more worked up. My mom described it as trying to suck on a blown up balloon! I figured out I had to pump really fast to soften the breast for her and get her good and calm before nursing. I remember standing in the bathroom with the water running (the white noise soothed her) while getting her to latch, then once she was calm and on the breast, carefully moving to a chair. Your milk will eventually regulate and your baby will get the hang of it. Don't give up! It will be hard at first, and you'll be so tired, but you just have to nurse through it. Within a few days, Scarlett was breastfeeding like a champ!

Hormones are crazy. You will cry. Your baby will cry. You will cry while you hold your crying baby. It's ok. It will pass.

I hope you find this helpful if you are expecting. If not, well these ate just my notes to myself for next time. :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Birth Story, part 2

Read part 1 here

Amniotic fluid trickling down the leg of my maternity yoga pants, I fumbled through my purse for a card with the number of my ob's answering service. "Um, yes, I think I'm in labor. I think my water just broke and my contractions are...ahhh...hoo... I'm having one...sorry...right now..." The pain was getting worse, I found I couldn't finish a sentence. I handed the phone off to my mom, who handed it off to Mark. Dr. Kleiss was on call that night and would call us back. Within a minute she called and Mark told her the situation and that we were headed to the hospital. We grabbed the bag I had packed and sitting by the door for weeks and the five of us piled into the car. At this point the contractions really started picking up, and every red light was torture. I jus kept praying, "Please, Lord, just let me not have another contraction until I get to the hospital and can have my epidural!"

By the time we arrived at the hospital, about 10:45 pm, I could barely walk. Somehow I made it to the maternity wing. Mark buzzed the doorbell. "How can we help you?" a sweet voice said through the speaker. My dear husband didn't quite know how to say the obvious answer. "Uh, Nash. We're here... havin' a baby?" I could hear a giggle in the nurse's voice as she told us to come on in. I leaned on the counter of the nurses' station as we signed some forms. When the nurse told me to follow her to a room, I didn't know if I could make it there. I did and changed into a ubiquitous hospital gown and crawled into the bed.

"I want an epidural right away," I informed the nurse when she came back in. Now the contractions were coming every minute and had become extremely intense and painful.

"OK, well in order to give you an epidural we have to check you, admit you, have you answer some questions and get a full bag of IV fluids in you, and then we'll call the anesthesiologist."

Are you kidding me? They don't keep these things on tap that you could just hook me up to instantly? The next hour was the most excruciatingly painful hour of my life as she checked me (yep, I was 5 cm dilated, for sure in labor!) and fired off a battery of questions that I answered through gritted teeth or just closing my eyes and shaking my head yes or no. She hooked me up with a bunch of wires to monitor the contractions. She felt my abdomen and looked at the screen as I groaned. "I'm having trouble feeling the contractions," she said to the other nurse. What?! I'M not having any trouble feeling them! She turned out to be a really sweet nurse, but in that moment I had some choice words for her in my head. To further delay my pain relief, they couldn't get a vein and had to call the IV team to put the needle in.
The pain was incredible. The worst pain I've ever felt in my life. Let me tell you, the worst period cramps ain't got nothin on labor pains! It felt an 18 wheeler was driving across my abdomen while a demon gripped my uterus, squeezing it with fiery hands. Finally the fluid was in, and the anesthesiologist came in the room. "Is she even having a break between contractions? How far is she dilated? When was the last time you checked her?" he asked the nurse, who seemed nonchalant. Thank you, doctor, for validating the intensity of my pain! The nurses didn't seem to believe me! (I'll say it again, the nurses turned out to be wonderful, but in my agony I didn't see them as very sympathetic.) I managed to sit up on the side of the bed as he numbed my back and placed the epidural. I didn't really feel it go in, just a little pressure. I laid back down, and it started to take effect within minutes. Sweet relief! Why doesn't everyone get one of these? I suddenly couldn't feel a thing! "Thank you! You're my best friend!" I told the anesthesiologist as he was leaving. I'm sure he gets that a lot.

The next couple hours were pure bliss compared to what I has been going through. I was confined to the bed, and I did have to have some oxygen, which was a little annoying, and I don't really remember why I had to have it, but I didn't care. I was pain free. I couldn't feel the contractions at all. The epidural made me a little shivery, bit it's a small price to pay! Now it was time to wait and rest up for the next phase.

It wasn't much longer until the nursed came to check me for a second time, at 2:00 am. "Hmm..." she said, "I can't seem to find your cervix... I think you're fully dilated." She seemed surprised and called another nurse for a second opinion. Yep! 10 cm! I guess I had progressed faster than they thought I would. They let me "labor down" for the next 30 minutes, and then it was time to start pushing!

Pushing is hard work! If the contractions were the worst part of labor, pushing comes in at a close second. It didn't hurt (until the very end), but it was utterly exhausting. It took a while for me to figure out how to push. The epidural suppresses the urge, but as my baby moved down the birth canal, I began to feel the pressure more intensely. As she began to crown, I felt an insane amount of pressure. At the risk of being too graphic, it feels like you're trying to push out the biggest poo of your life that just doesn't want to come out! I had been pushing for two hours, and I was sure my eyebrows would be permanently scrunched and my eyes had surely popped out of their sockets. I felt drained of energy and was ready to give up. The nurse and doctor told me to keep pushing, but what really motivated me were the sounds of awe and excitement coming from my husband, mom, and sister a they could see a head emerging. Now I was pushing with all that was in me and started to feel what they (quite accurately) call the "ring of fire". "Owwww!" and then a sigh of instant relief as her head was out. One more push and the doctor delivered the rest of her body. My first thought was thank the Lord that it's over! And then Dr. Kleiss held up this little naked, crying, beautiful baby and a rush of joy and amazement came over me. I couldn't believe she just came out of me. All I could say was "Oh!" as tears filled my eyes. Mark cut the cord, and the nurse placed a perfect baby girl on my chest. "Hi baby," I told her. "You're here! I love you!" And I do, I love her so much!
Scarlett Elizabeth Nash was born on Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 4:49 am, 6 pounds 10 ounces, 20.5 inches long

A Birth Story, part 1

The two weeks leading up to my due date I was fed up with being pregnant and anxiously waiting for Scarlett to arrive. I was so uncomfortable and couldn't sleep (Ha! As if I would get more sleep when I had a baby!), and I was sick of waddling around just waiting and knowing that it could be any day or three more weeks. Every night I would go to bed and think, "Maybe tonight's the night..." and every morning I would wake up disappointed and think, "Maybe today's the day..." Nope. The cycle continued. I also had a lot of irrational thoughts. "How will I know I'm in labor?" (Trust me, you'll know!), "What if I sleep through labor and wake up to the baby's head coming out??" (While we may have heard some crazy stories, I'm pretty sure for the majority of us there is absolutely NO WAY you could sleep through pain like that).
At my 39 week appointment my doctor asked me if I had any wishes to be induced. "No, I'd rather it happen naturally...but ask me again next week if I'm still here," I said, positive that I wouldn't be. The next week came. Even though we all know that it's an estimated date of delivery, it seems like such a let down when your due date comes and goes with no baby. At that point I was willing to talk induction. It was Thursday, and we scheduled the induction for the following Monday morning if she hadn't come by then.

My mom decided to go ahead and come down Friday night and stay the weekend so she would be here for sure if I was induced or if I went into labor over the weekend. She and my brother Cameron came down, and my sister Collier would come down the next day. Saturday morning Mark, Mom, Cameron, and I went to the home inspection of the house Mark and I were buying (we figured one major life event just wasn't enough), and I started feeling some tightening sensations. They were like stronger Braxton Hicks contractions that would come about every 20 minutes or so. After the inspection we went out for some lunch (which happened to be Mexican food - maybe that helped!), starting to get a little hopeful. Later that afternoon we decided to kill some time and hopefully kick things into gear by walking the mall. At that point the mini contractions started coming every 6-10 minutes, but they didn't hurt. When we got home, Collier had made it there and we sat down in the living room. All of the sudden the contractions started to hurt and started to get closer together. For some reason I was in denial that I was in labor. My mom kept saying I should go to the hospital (she had super fast labors and was afraid I would to), but I kept insisting that we wait like they told us until the contractions were 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for 1 hour. Mine quickly went from being around 10 minutes apart to 3 or 4 minutes apart, but they were only lasting about 30 seconds, and it had been less than 30 minutes. "Kara! You're in labor!" my mom assured me. They were starting to hurt worse now, like really bad menstrual cramps, and then quickly became 1-3 minutes apart. "OK, maybe we should call." As soon as I said it, my water broke.

Stay tuned for part 2...

My Return to Blogging

It's 10 pm, and I know I should be taking advantage of Scarlett's sleep right now to get some shut eye of my own, but the urge to write has so overcome me that sleep seems elusive. I've been wanting to start blogging again for a long time (since before I was pregnant), but life just slipped by and I kept putting it off. Well, now I have so many important things going on that I feel I MUST record them before I forget all the little details. I am telling myself that I WILL keep up with it. I'll start with a life changing event...